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Design contest opens for Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki

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The Guggenheim Foundation has launched its first ever international design contest to select an architect for its latest museum in Helsinki

The two-stage contest is being run by Malcolm Reading Consultants and is supported by the City of Helsinki, the State of Finland, and the Finnish Association of Architects.

Submissions to the anonymous first stage will be judged on architectural design, relationship to the site, sustainability and feasibility.

An online exhibition will feature all stage one submissions with special prominence given to 30 schemes rated highest by the judges.

Six shortlisted teams will then be announced in November and given until March 2015 to work up designs for a prominent plot in the city’s South Harbour.

The winner – set to be announced in June 2015 – will take home £80,000 and five runner-ups will receive £45,000 each.

Guggenheim Foundation director Richard Armstrong said: ‘It is essential to the Guggenheim’s mission to engage directly with people throughout the world, to affirm the transformative potential of art, and to fuse the experience of contemporary art with great architecture.

‘This competition advances all of those goals, with the aim of inspiring an exemplary museum of the twenty-first century that is also a meaningful addition to the landscape of Helsinki.’

Competition jurist Erkki Leppävuori added: ‘This competition promises to be extremely exciting. The site, which is rich and varied as a cultural and environmental setting, poses potentially productive technical challenges to architects and structural engineers, who also must address the high expectations and lively opinions of our citizens.

‘I am sure that the competitors will respond with many excellent proposals. Finland and Helsinki need more groundbreaking cultural hot spots, and I expect this competition will enhance and broaden our discussions about culture.’

The full competition jury

  • Mark Wigley, professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University (jury chair)
  • Mikko Aho, Director of City Planning and architect, City of Helsinki
  • Jeanne Gang, founder and architect, Studio Gang Architects
  • Juan Herreros, founder and architect, Herreros Arquitectos
  • Anssi Lassila, partner and architect, Lassila Hirvilammi
  • Erkki Leppävuori, President and CEO, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
  • Rainer Mahlamäki, professor and architect, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects
  • Helena Säteri, Director General, Ministry of the Environment, Finland
  • Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
  • Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founder and architect, Atelier Bow-Wow
  • Ritva Viljanen, Deputy Mayor, City of Helsinki

More than seven hundred inquiries were received from interest teams before the contest opened.

The City’s governing board has earmarked a waterfront plot in the city’s South Harbour for the project - despite previous opposition to the high-profile project.

An earlier proposal for the museum was shelved by the same board in 2012 amid concerns over the project’s cost. A poll of city residents found 75 per cent opposed the scheme.

The Guggenheim Foundation subsequently put forward a second proposal featuring a ten per cent reduction in operating and administrative costs which was approved by the city board in January.

A final decision on whether proceed with the prestigious museum will be taken by the City of Helsinki and the State of Finland once the competition completes.

The deadline for anonymous stage one submissions is 10 September.

Visit the competition website for more information






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